Jun 15 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
THE University of Stirling has had its environmental credentials called into question after finishing near the bottom of a green-themed table.
The People and Planet Green League 2012 assessed the environmental and ethical performance of 146 universities, scoring them on their actions and attitudes towards green.
The university finished 129th once the final results had been collated, slipping 14 places from its place in the 2011 list.
A foreword describing the methodology used to compile the league table – which was released late last month – states: “From carbon reduction to whether institutions are equipping their graduates with the skills to enter a global, low-carbon economy, the methodology behind this sixth Green League is designed to test institutions’ commitment to, and actual performance in, creating a fair and sustainable future.”
Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Green Party councillor Mark Ruskell said: “It’s disappointing that the University of Stirling is struggling to translate its world-class position in educational and research work into becoming a leader in sustainability as well.
“While the university faces big challenges – reducing energy use in the residences, for example – there are lots of smaller steps that can be taken; from ethical investment to local food sourcing, that could improve its record.
“Hopefully new work, such as Stirling Student Union’s energy advice project, will help lift the position next year and I look forward to discussing with the university and the union how we can make progress.”
A university spokesperson stressed the local institution had achieved what was described as “significant” environmental goals, which weren’t reflected in the People and Planet poll.
She said: “In November 2011, Stirling was ranked first in the Scottish higher education sector, and 16th in the UK, in the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme league table.
“And, in March this year, the university was awarded the Gold Footprint award in the Stirling Low Carbon Alliance Challenge – and the Student Union was awarded the Gold Green Impact award.”
She continued: “Next year will see the benefits of a significant investment in a combined heat and power plant to serve the campus, which will deliver a further reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions of up to 25 per cent.
“In using per capita comparative data to rank universities, the Green League takes no account of the differences between universities.
“For example, water usage is scored based on water consumption per head, but with Stirling’s outstanding facilities – including an Olympic-size swimming pool; a world-leading, but water intensive, Institute of Aquaculture and a high proportion of student residential accommodation located on the campus – our water usage is always going to be higher than a city centre university which has no university-managed student accommodation.
“In addition, Stirling supports Fairtrade but is not Fairtrade accredited because of the restrictions this places on the use of local suppliers.
“Stirling also supports the purchase of food from local, seasonal, Food for Life, Red Tractor Assured, Marine Conservation Society and Rainforest Alliance sources.”